African biodiversity informaticians convened in Pretoria last week to collaborate on the JRS-funded project aimed at ensuring biodiversity data is available to support evidence-based policy making. The workshop took place at Pretoria National Botanic Garden from 25 to 27 March 2014 and attracted 25 delegates from 14 countries. It was the second in a series of such gatherings held in the framework of the project, Mobilizing Africa’s policy and decision-making relevant biodiversity data.
At this conference, delegates reviewed a draft toolkit for determining policy-relevant biodiversity data, critiquing four theoretical approaches set out therein. The delegates then reported on their greatest experiences in mobilizing biodiversity data and assessed the various drivers that stimulated such mobilization. These included international commitments, project specifications, executive orders, and private research. A facilitated discussion ensued, addressing the various barriers and potential solutions to data mobilization, which fed into a broader discussion on capacity requirements. Delegates specified the type of training to receive in future project workshops with a view acquiring the skills necessary to mobilize policy-relevant data (see the project website, Mobilizing Africa’s Biodiversity Data).
The next steps of the project are to finalize the toolkit to determine policy-relevant biodiversity data; further refine and corroborate the data priorities of each African country; and design and implement a training programme to address the community’s most pressing capacity needs. To learn more about the 2014 Biodiversity Informatics Conference, please see this press release from SANBI.